Monday, January 28, 2013

Why we call him "The Angelic Doctor"

January 28th, Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas
The Common Doctor, St. Thomas is often referred to as “Aquinas” after his hometown of Aquino. His most beloved title, however, is the “Angelic Doctor” – and it is this designation which inspires the greatest devotion to the saintly Dominican theologian.
Why is St. Thomas Aquinas properly called the “Angelic Doctor”, the “Angelic Thomas”, and the “Angel of the Schools”?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Man's role in writing Sacred Scripture

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus.
In the opening lines of his Gospel, St. Luke gives us a clear indication of the active human role in the writing of Sacred Scripture. Though the Bible is truly the word of God and not merely the words of men, yet it is also correct to say that it is really and truly the words of men and not solely the word of God.
The books of Scripture are occasional writings – i.e. they were written at the will of the human author who desired to address a particular situation in a particular moment of time and place. St. Luke states very clearly that he has decided to write account of the Gospel, and he does not fail to mention his own labors in compiling an orderly narrative by means of carefully investigating everything anew.
This book is most certainly the work of St. Luke, and yet St. Peter teaches us that Prophecy [of Scripture] came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21). How can the Bible be both the word and works of men, and also truly and indeed the very word of God?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How reading St. Francis de Sales has made me a better priest

January 24th, Feast of St. Francis de Sales
“Introduction to the Devout Life”, the spiritual classic in which St. Francis de Sales sets forth the life of devotion not so much for the consecrated religious or cleric but for the laity, is surely the most popular work of the Doctor of the Catholic Press. This is one of those very few books worth reading two hundred times and more. It serves as a trustworthy guide to sanctity.
Since my ordination to the priesthood (three and a half years ago), this little “Introduction” for lay people has had an immeasurable impact on my own approach to moral and spiritual theology – reading St. Francis de Sales has made me a better priest.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christ did not grow in grace or in holiness

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men. (Luke 2:52, Douay-Rheims)
This passage from the Gospel according to St. Luke is often interpreted (in a manner smacking of heresy) to indicate that there was a substantial growth of holiness and grace in our Savior. However, upon reflection, it will become abundantly clear that such could not have been the case. Jesus could not and did not grow in holiness, but was from the first moment of his conception perfectly and totally holy.
This is especially relevant as we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of the Lord last Sunday not as a moment of increase in grace in our Lord, but as an Epiphany or Manifestation of the fundamental fullness of grace and holiness which he had enjoyed from the moment of his conception.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Why were the heavens opened to Jesus at his baptism?

Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, Luke 3:15-16,21-22
After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.
By baptism, men are made to be true sons of God, washed from original (and any actual) sin, infused with the virtues and gifts, built into a true temple of the Holy Trinity, and joined to the mystical Body of Christ which is the Church.
Through baptism, heaven is opened to us. However, heaven was ever open to Christ. Even from the moment of his conception he was the Son of God (by nature), he had no sin, he was filled with the perfection of all the gifts and virtues (as well as of all knowledge), his human soul was indeed that place where the fullness of Godhead deigned to dwell.
Jesus obviously could not increase in grace, being perfect from the moment of his conception – what then is the meaning of the opening of the heavens?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What we say about Jesus, when we call Mary the "Mother of God"

January 1st, Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God
The doctrines of Mary which the Church believes, teaches, and professes are, in truth, doctrines about Christ. When the Church says “Mary” she is directing us always to Jesus.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the central teaching about our Lady – that she is truly the Mother of God. By insisting that our Lady is not merely the Mother of the Christ, but truly the Mother of God, the Church condemns two heresies concerning the Savior.
The Angelic Thomas speaks
“The Blessed Virgin is truly called the Mother of God. For the only way in which it could be denied that the Blessed Virgin is the Mother of God would be either if the humanity were first subject to conception and birth, before this man were the Son of God, as Photinus said; or if the humanity were not assumed unto unity of the Person or hypostasis of the Word of God, as Nestorius maintained. But both of these are erroneous. Therefore it is heretical to deny that the Blessed Virgin is the Mother of God.”
 - Summa Theologica III, q.35, a.4